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What comes first: copy or design?

You’ve chosen to invest in a new website for your ethically conscious business (yay for you!).

But what comes first: copy or design?

Because, unless you get your website created by an agency, you’ll probably work with two different professionals on your copy and design.

So, do you hire the designer to create the website and then get the copy written to fit the design? Or do you get the copy written first?

Here’s my take on it.

Should design or copy come first?

Copy comes first, ideally. The strategy and flow of your messaging needs to be decided before your website can be designed. Then, once the website design is complete, there is often some back-and-forth to make sure the words and design fit each other perfectly.

It’s a lot less effective to write copy after design. It can be done, of course. But it can mean the copy is written to fit the design, rather than being informed by the messaging strategy.

When you work with a website copywriter, they don’t pluck words from nowhere and piece them together to sound or look good.

They take you through a process to define your unique selling proposition, voice and messaging to ensure your website attracts your perfect customers. They decide how to structure all the information to communicate your business to your audience. They also craft the user journey of your website, including how to structure your navigation menu, what pages to include, and how to lay out each page. They even do basic SEO.

A designer needs all this information before they can get started.

The words inspire the design choices.

How this works in practice

First, a website copywriter takes you through a briefing process before going away to craft your website copy.

They create what’s called a ‘copy deck’, which is a document containing the information you (as the client) and your website designer need in relation to the copy.

Once the copy has been approved, the deck is passed to your website designer who brings the website to life through beautiful and strategic design.

Ideally, when the website design is complete, the copywriter and designer will communicate to ensure the design and copy are working together as intended. Copy can read differently once it has been designed, so it can be helpful for a website to be a collaborative effort between the copywriter and designer.

This isn’t always the case, though – your copywriter and designer might not get the chance (or want) to collaborate. Which is why the copy deck is so important!


I hope this helps answer the ‘Should design or copy come first?’ question.

The dream scenario is a copywriter and website designer working together to create a website that is rooted in strategy and true to your brand. A killer mix of words and design to attract your perfect customers.

But yes, the copy should always inform the design!

Oh and, by the way, if you’re looking for help, you can hire me for the website copywriting part. And I can recommend some fantastic website designers.

Until next time,

Keep making waves!